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How to pluck a chicken....

 
Valerie Acquard
Posts: 22
Location: North Woods MN
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I am facing my first ever chicken slaughter Tuesday. I am making my own bleach jug cone thanks so some advice I've seen on here.

I am looking for more advice though on the plucking. I have a huge metal pot I have purchased just for this. At a yard sale it was a steal! But I don't have a propane burner like I've seen more people using to heat their water. I do have a access to a weber BBQ, and some lump hard wood charcoal. As long as I'm temping the water this should work right? And then I can use the coals to burn off the pin feathers right?

Also, does anyone wash their chickens before plucking? I am interested in keeping some, or most of the feathers, but this bird has been getting down right dirty the last few days. She is white (my neighbor didn't have the heart to kill her or I would never have a white bird) so the dirt really shows. Or is the hot plucking water enough to clean the feathers?

I'm excited about this. I know it's the death of an animal, but I feel like I am ready for this, and can't help but lick my lips every time I pick her up. She just feels juicy to me. I never felt this way about the rabbits we used to raise. We will raise rabbits again one day, but they just don't compare to a well fed chicken. I'm hoping she will be tender enough for maybe some home made buttermilk deep fry.
 
Adam Klaus
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Location: 6200' westen slope of colorado, zone 6
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you can always just skin the bird. I am a big fan of that. Unless I am doing a large batch, where I setup the tank scalder, I always just skin my bird. Almost as easy as peeling a bananna. I dont really like to eat chicken skin, and as long as you cook the meat in a way to discourage it drying out, there is no drawback to skinning rather than plucking. Huge savings of time, and much cleaner, and will make you like the butchering process a lot more. Feathers are quite messy and gross, ime. ymmv.
 
Lars Fabiunke
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I had my first rooster kill this year as well. It was a bit different for me as my boys had hand picked them as day old chicks, raised them and of course they gave them all names. It was tough but I finally did it. What help with the whole process was the following video:

http://youtu.be/5_S3P0eU0lE

There are 2 parts, they are both worth watching.

I ended up plucking the bird as shown in the video, yeah it was messy, rubber gloves really do help as does stringing the bird upside down. They key was the hot water trick.

Good luck and Bon Appétit
 
Jay Green
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Valerie Acquard wrote:I am facing my first ever chicken slaughter Tuesday. I am making my own bleach jug cone thanks so some advice I've seen on here.

I am looking for more advice though on the plucking. I have a huge metal pot I have purchased just for this. At a yard sale it was a steal! But I don't have a propane burner like I've seen more people using to heat their water. I do have a access to a weber BBQ, and some lump hard wood charcoal. As long as I'm temping the water this should work right? And then I can use the coals to burn off the pin feathers right?

Also, does anyone wash their chickens before plucking? I am interested in keeping some, or most of the feathers, but this bird has been getting down right dirty the last few days. She is white (my neighbor didn't have the heart to kill her or I would never have a white bird) so the dirt really shows. Or is the hot plucking water enough to clean the feathers?

I'm excited about this. I know it's the death of an animal, but I feel like I am ready for this, and can't help but lick my lips every time I pick her up. She just feels juicy to me. I never felt this way about the rabbits we used to raise. We will raise rabbits again one day, but they just don't compare to a well fed chicken. I'm hoping she will be tender enough for maybe some home made buttermilk deep fry.


Curious as to why you would never have a white chicken?

No, no one washes a chicken before plucking. The scalding water is just to loosen the feathers, though some add a little soap to the water to get the water to penetrate under the feathers better, I've never seen the need for it. The water penetrates just fine without it...but it won't get the bird clean, with or without soap, as the bird is in the water for mere seconds only.

You can collect the feathers into a pillow case afterwards and wash them in the washing machine and dry in the dryer.

You don't burn off pin feathers..these are normally scraped or picked off. I think you are referring to fine hairs that folks singe off but those are easily scrubbed off when you have the bird in your sink for a final cleaning...a clean scratcher will do the trick. No singeing necessary.
 
Valerie Acquard
Posts: 22
Location: North Woods MN
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I would never own white birds because of the hawks we have here. A neighbor of mine has seen hawks rip through bird net to get at the white birds he was raising. He raises only black Australorps now. They are smarter then the hawks, so he says. And he has yet to lose a bird to hawks since he switched. I am worried even about my white muscovys. I'm glad they are not all white, and they are much more leery of predator movement then the chickens. Especially overhead shadows.

Plus I am too soft hearted to deal with the losses associated with raising the most popular white bird, the Cornish cross. I've read there are ways to raise them with less losses like only 5-10% losses. Even one loss would be hard for me. I'm glad I haven't lost any of my heritage birds yet, well I gave one with a disability away to a friend. I am sure the Cornish cross are very tasty, and economical for those raising for profit. I may one day have hardened my heart enough to try them, but not here. Not in super hawk country. I live in Northern MN by the by, where a large population of Hawks stay over the summer.
 
Jay Green
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I've raised white chickens for 37 years in high raptor populated areas and never lost a white chicken to one(most of those flocks were 30-50+ birds)...only lost one chicken to a raptor, actually, and that was a barred rock who roosted up in the barn loft. I always have many white birds in my flocks, as I have raised White Leghorns, Brahmas and White Plymouth Rocks many times...my current flock has White Rocks and Delawares in it as the majority of the flock. Free ranging is as successful as your preparation for it and, when well prepared, losses to raptors are minimal, be the chicken black, speckled or white.

CX aren't the only white bird one can raise on free range with great success, as my success with the several white bird breeds I have utilized in the past can attest. Your friend's one experiment is not conclusive, nor is the mortality rate of the CX. I've raised them with 0% mortality rate. Many people do if they use the proper methods.

CX aren't normally part of a DP free range flock and I process them around 3 mo., so they are a non issue for free ranging. I free ranged 54 of them all over 3 acres last year without one loss to a raptor, but they only ranged for less then 3 mo., so this makes them an easy bird to free ranging successfully, as the longer a bird is out on free range in its life, the more chances it will be preyed upon. As these birds are primarily raised for meat, being soft-hearted isn't really compatible with raising the CX breed anyway.

 
Valerie Acquard
Posts: 22
Location: North Woods MN
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Well the deed is done. Thank you for the feedback and advice. In fact I found it easy. Much less stressful then rabbit butchery, for some reason. I might turn out to be not as soft as I thought. Not wanting the bird to die alone I held her while she passed. Much like the compassionate chicken lady featured in one of Paul's videos. It was peaceful, and I felt better. I was so worried this bird would suffer because she was so large! My neighbors boy over fed her I think.

I am proud of the job I did. And glad I am a meat eater. None of her flesh will be wasted. In fact I'm even preserving the head for a friend.

The Weber worked just fine heating the water. And whomever said it, was right there were no hairs to burn off only a few suborn quills, and even those came right out with a minimal effort.

I must say if this bird turns out really tasty the CX might just end up in my flock. I know my neighbors problems might never be mine, and I hope that my technique in raising my birds this year will give me the experience and preparedness needed to raise CX with no losses.
 
Jay Green
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That's good news!! Always good to hear of a good processing experience...one hears so many bad ones sometimes.
 
Alder Burns
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Location: northern California
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Actually for just one bird, you could have probably dry-plucked it in not much more than the time needed for scalding when you add in the time it took to heat the water and wash the pot! It's just a bit slower, and you can't grab so large a handful of feathers at a time or you might tear the skin. Another hint, when you get the bird plucked and cleaned, age it in the refrigerator for a couple of days before eating or freezing. The old tradition of "hanging" meat was to let the rigor mortis stage pass and the meat is much more tender then.....Especially with an older bird, this makes a huge difference in it's edibility...
 
Craig Dobbelyu
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forest garden hugelkultur
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Alder Burns wrote: The old tradition of "hanging" meat was to let the rigor mortis stage pass and the meat is much more tender then.....Especially with an older bird, this makes a huge difference in it's edibility...


Interesting. Now the hanging chickens and ducks I see in China towns make a little more sense. I figured it couldn't be just hanging there for aesthetics.
 
Peter Ellis
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Location: Central New Jersey
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Lars Fabiunke wrote:I had my first rooster kill this year as well. It was a bit different for me as my boys had hand picked them as day old chicks, raised them and of course they gave them all names. It was tough but I finally did it. What help with the whole process was the following video:

http://youtu.be/5_S3P0eU0lE

There are 2 parts, they are both worth watching.

I ended up plucking the bird as shown in the video, yeah it was messy, rubber gloves really do help as does stringing the bird upside down. They key was the hot water trick.

Good luck and Bon Appétit


My first was last night, and made me very conscious of why you don't name dinner ... This guy was supposed to be a hen, and the township came down on me about the noise - with the result that I had to deal with him on someone else's schedule

Dressed out at 3.7 pounds, and I wish I had remembered the note about refrigeration for a day or two before freezing.

Will be a few days before I'll be ready for chicken dinner.

 
I agree. Here's the link: https://richsoil.com/wood-heat.jsp
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